CCTV footage of attack on ambulance staff released to highlight the problem crews face
The ambulance service is highlighting the shocking problem of attacks on paramedics and ambulance staff, citing a particularly brutal assault in Nottingham.
Blue light services staff are regularly subjected to attacks including spitting, biting, verbal abuse and occasionally serious assaults, according to the East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS).
In a bid to raise the profile of such attacks and show the impact they have, EMAS has released CCTV footage of an attack in Nottingham.
The incident happened in Talbot Street at 4am on January 27.
Technician Heath Ismay and ambulance care assistant Mark Maddy were attending patient Matthew Fealey after concerned passers-by called for an ambulance.
Once in the back of the ambulance, Fealey became aggressive and attacked crew, throwing punches, kicking and pulling out Heath’s hair.
Police officers were on the scene within six minutes following a call by the ambulance crew asking for assistance.
Mark, 47, has worked for EMAS for nine years. He said: "I’ve been verbally assaulted a few times during my nine years at EMAS and once physically, but never on this scale.
“I was really disappointed that this chap felt the need to have a pop at us, when we were trying to help him.
“I was okay after this incident, just a bit shocked. It has affected the way I approach similar patients – in the back of your mind you are always wondering if it is going to escalate and get out of hand.”
Heath, 53, who has worked for EMAS for five years, said: "When we arrived to treat him, he was really compliant, but within a few minutes his whole demeanour changed. And the way he was fighting, he was really going for it – he knew what he was doing.
“I was quite upset about him tearing my hair out, but you just have to walk away and think ‘it could have been a lot worse’.
“No-one who comes into this job should have to put up with this stuff. It’s just not acceptable.”
Fealey, 34, from Methyr Tydfil in Wales, was arrested by police officers and was charged with assault and given a 17-week sentence, suspended for 12 months, at Nottingham Magistrates' Court on March 29.
Security management specialist Kelvin Langford said: “Our frontline colleagues, as well as our team in our 999 control room, signed up to this job to help people, not to be assaulted, and they deserve to be treated with respect.
“This unprovoked attack is a particularly shocking incident, and as a result the CCTV is difficult to watch. Thankfully, on this occasion our ambulance crew were not badly injured and have made a full recovery.
“We are grateful that our colleagues in Nottinghamshire Police arrived quickly to arrest Fealey and we have worked closely with both them and the Crown Prosecution Service to pursue a conviction.
“Assaults on our staff are absolutely unacceptable and we take a zero tolerance approach towards anyone who verbally or physically assaults them.
“Alcohol or substance abuse is not an excuse and doesn’t wash with us or the legal system.”
EMAS has now formed a closer relationship with Nottinghamshire Police in a bid to stamp out the issue of attacks on blue light staff.
Chief Inspector Chris Sullivan added: "Any assault on my colleagues in all emergency services is unacceptable. These incidents are incredibly serious.
"We, as the police, are there to support our colleagues and are working together closer than ever to ensure that this figure decreases.
"As you can see from the video footage from the ambulance, this is what staff have to go through and it's simply not right.
"The crew on that day, handled themselves impeccably and were incredibly brave throughout the whole ordeal.
"Sadly this isn't a one-off incident."
An EMAS spokesman added: "Sadly, this isn't the only incident recently. Ambulance staff in Nottinghamshire have reported 30 physical assaults between May 2018 and April 2019.
"Of this figure, 16 of people have been sent to court, or given cautions and words of advice dependent on the level of the incident and wishes of the ambulance staff involved. A number of investigations are also ongoing at this time.
"[Meanwhile] police officers and police community support officers have suffered 124 assaults in the same period, between May 2018 and April 2019."